Eight Things That Can Damage Your Plumbing

Eight Things That Can Damage Your Plumbing

Eight Things That Can Damage Your Plumbing

Plumbing is one of the most vital parts of a home’s infrastructure. Sadly, there are a lot of things that can seriously damage it. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the most common culprits and how to minimize or completely eliminate the damage they can do.

  1. Do It Yourself Fixes

    A homeowner may be able to “kludge” together a fix for a leaky pipe or broken valve, but usually, the damage done over time by leaving such temporary fixes in place will lead to bigger problems. Plumbing systems are more complex than they appear. Smart homeowners trust a professional to fix things the right way.

  2. Harsh Chemicals In Home Products

    Chemicals in home products such as drain cleaner can also cause problems. What might seem like a quick and easy way to fix a clog can actually eat away at the pipes and do serious damage. It is recommended that a professional be called when a homeowner cannot remove a clog manually. Others try a all-natural clog-removing recipe. Toilet fresheners are another issue. Aside from harsh, pipe-damaging chemicals, toilet fresheners are usually very durable. If a piece breaks off, it is almost sure to cause a blockage that won’t quickly disintegrate.

  3. Roots

    Roots deep in the ground can often work their way into pipes in your system, leading to leaking and backing up of water. Those who live in older buildings often call in a professional with a “rooter” which snakes through the pipes and removes any invasive root growth.

  4. Septic Tank Chemicals

    Dumping bleach, paint, acid and other household chemicals down the drain into the septic tank can cause a build up of corrosive materials that can end up impacting your pipes and tank. It’s better to dispose of these through other means.

  5. Grease

    Grease has no place in a plumbing system. As it cools, it hardens and can become a “clogged artery” in the piping. It’s difficult to remove and can completely block up a pipe.

  6. Disposing of Trash Through Plumbing System

    There are things the garbage disposal can digest that it really shouldn’t. The previously mentioned problems with grease and other harsh chemicals are not really mitigated by passing through the garbage disposal. Bones and other durable things can still cause a blockage even once they’ve been hacked into smaller pieces.

    Flushing items down the toilet is also a common cause for blockage and backups. Just because the toilet can manage to ingest some garbage does not mean it will make it all the way through your system. Many make the mistake of causing major blockage by flushing down things that don’t belong in the toilet just because it is easier.

  7. Old Water Heaters

    Water heaters should be replaced about every 10 years. When they break down, they can cause backups, leaking and other havoc in your home. Many homeowners recommend regular inspections to make sure things are in good working order. The water heater is another device that should be left to professionals.

  8. Old Hoses

    Most people do not think about the hoses on their dishwasher or washing machine. However, these degrade over time and can cause leakage and other problems when they give out. It is recommended that they be replaced every five years.

    Clearly, the plumbing system has its fair share of enemies, but simple maintenance and avoidance of certain items and habits will go a long way to keeping things working well. Whenever in doubt, the best thing to do is have a professional look at the system before things stop working.

Common Plumbing Problems During the Summer

Common Plumbing Problems During the Summer

Summer Plumbing Problems

While summer tends to mark the emergence of many good things, it can also bring summer-specific plumbing problems. These issues can cause everything from minor nuisances to major problems that require a small fortune to repair.

The good news is that many of these summer plumbing problems can be avoided with the right habits and some preventative plumbing maintenance.

Let’s explore some of the summer plumbing issues that individuals tend to encounter.

  1. Leaking Washing Machine Hoses – As the weather becomes more favorable, people tend to go outdoors more often. This results in dirtier clothes, which in turn means that washing machine hose issues arise.Check hoses for cracks, breaks and other defects. They should be replaced every three years to prevent problems like leaking and flooding. Washing machines should have four inches of space between the machine and the wall to prevent hose kinking and other damage. Washing machine hose issues can generally be handled by a homeowner unless leaks or other problems persist. A plumber should be called to prevent damage if a hose leak repeatedly develops.
  2. Sump Pumps – Sump pumps are designed to keep water out of basements and other areas where the water could damage buildings and breed mold. Residents seldom check their sump pumps, which leads to these problems when the first few summer downpours happen.The first thing to do is to test a sump pump. This can be done by lifting the float slightly to see if the pump engages.The second thing to do is to see if the sump pump works when the power is out. A battery backup system will enable sump pumps to continue working even when the power gets knocked out due to a storm.The last thing to examine is to see if the pump adequately drains the area. More water may flow in to basements as the result of dry soil during a downpour. While homeowners can examine some aspects of sump pumps, a plumber should be called yearly to maintain and inspect them.
  3. Tree Roots – Spring often leads trees to developing new roots, but it is summer when these roots spread everywhere they can. This includes old sewer and water lines.Old PVC, clay and cast iron pipes are susceptible to damage from tree roots. Copper piping has some resistance due to copper’s toxicity to trees, but it can also be affected.If tree roots have been a problem, then consider replacing lines with PEX or new copper piping rather than just clearing tree root blockages.Given the tenacity of tree roots, a plumber should always be called when a resident suspects tree roots as the root of any plumbing problem.
  4. Condensate Drain Backup – Another major summer plumbing problem resident tend to encounter is backup of air conditioner condensate drains. This may happen due to the blockage of lines with mold, dirt or other debris.While this water can cause an incredible amount of damage, preventing the problem can be done by calling a plumber maintain the drain before the air conditioner is turned on for summer. This routine and preventative procedure can save headaches and money.
  5.  Garbage Disposal Problems – Garbage disposals tend to be the site of many problems due to what residents put down their drains. Many residents believe that garbage disposals can shred any waste, but this is not true.Fibrous plant waste, such as corn husks and melon rinds, tend to be difficult for garbage disposals to grind. These byproducts should be disposed of in the garbage to avoid problems.Another tip to avoid garbage disposal problems is to add small portions slowly to the disposal. After the disposal has been used, let water run for 10 to 15 seconds to clear any excess material.If the garbage disposal ever jams, call a plumber immediately. Trying to fix a jam yourself can be incredibly dangerous to both yourself and your home’s plumbing.

When to Call a Professional

If you have older plumbing, or you have not had your plumbing maintained on a yearly basis, then you should call a plumber to have your plumbing inspected, maintained, and repaired.
Potentially dangerous fixtures, such as garbage disposals, or plumbing requiring intense labor, such as sewer line replacement or tree root problems, are examples of when you should call a plumber. These situations should be handled by an expert due to their innate dangers and potential problems when installed improperly.

Avoiding Summer Plumbing Problems

The common thread of these summer plumbing problems is the fact that these problems can be avoided with the right care and maintenance. This can save you money, time and hassles.
To learn more about how these problems can be avoided by using the services of a plumber, contact us.

spring cleaning plumbing tips

Spring Cleaning Plumbing Tips and Maintenance

spring cleaning plumbing tipsSpring is when most homeowners pack up their winter gear, throw open the windows, and give everything a good scrubbing to make their homes fresh and clean. You should do the same thing to clean out your plumbing system in order to prevent major problems down the road and keep those pipes flowing freely. Here are some tips for plumbing maintenance that every homeowner should follow.

In the Kitchen

  • Check your appliances for any leaks and build up around seals. Clean the back of the fridge and make a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to reduce disposal odors.
  • Test water supply valves and inspect exposed plumbing under the sink for cracks.
  • Check faucets for any drips and tighten washers and handles if needed.
  • Clean drains of any clogs to keep them functioning properly.

In the Bathroom

  • Place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank to check for leaks. If the color seeps into the bowl water in less than an hour, you know you need a quick repair.
  • Inspect the bowl for cracks or any leakage.
  • Replace flush handles if loose or running without being used. Inspect the tank parts and repair as needed.
  • Clean the shower heads of mineral deposits by soaking them in vinegar and gently scrubbing clean.
  • Check pipes under sinks for any drips, mold, or mildew. Tighten handles and clean drains.

In the basement or garage

  • Inspect any exposed pipes for cracks and drips.
  • If you have a floor drain, snake it to clean out the plumbing system.
  • Run water into seldom used sinks to fill the sink trap and prevent any lingering smells.

On the home exterior

  • Inspect hose bibs and outdoor faucets for leaks that may indicate frozen pipes over the winter and make repairs as needed.
  • Clean out gutters, drains, and downspouts to reduce moisture against the outside of the house.
  • Check the plumbing vent pipes for any critters than may have taken up residence. Birds’ nests and squirrels can be evicted humanely.

Other plumbing maintenance

  • Know where the shut-off valves are in the home and make sure they can be turned easily.
  • Consider checking the water meter at night and again after 24 hours to discover an undetected leak.
  • Consider any additional upkeep for your hot water tank or tankless system for proper function.

When you take the time to examine and clean out your plumbing system and perform any additional plumbing maintenance, you are taking positive steps to reduce potential damage and other problems that may occur over time. Any effort you make to care for your pipes is time well spent, so incorporate these tips into your spring cleaning this year.

six house hold products not to flush

6 Household Products You Should Not Put Down Your Drain

six house hold products not to flushIf you have ever experienced a blocked kitchen sink, you know that there are just some things that are not meant to be washed down the drain. While you may think most liquids are safe for plumbing because they are in your home, you may be surprised to learn that many products that you use every day can cause major problems in your plumbing and in the environment. Here is a list of 6 common household items to keep out of your pipes.

  1. Paper towels/pre-moistened wipes/cotton balls

    Toilet paper is flushed every day, but it is designed to break down when in contact with water. Other paper objects are more durable, so instead of dissolving, they just block the pipes or increase the probability of a sewer back up or overflow. If that happens, well, you are going to need plenty more paper towels.

  2. Medications

    For a long time, people have flushed extra medications or poured them in drains, thinking it was safe to do. Unfortunately, those prescriptions find their way to our water supply, including lakes, rivers, oceans, and ground water. The impact on the environment is not worth it, especially if many people continue to dispose of their old medicine in this fashion.

  3. Cooking oil, grease, or fat

    Any cooking fat will create build up over time that can lead to a blocked kitchen sink, clogged drains, and a lot of headaches. Some of these items may be composted, although they may attract animals. Community recycling centers may also accept them for biodiesel, so you may have several options for better disposal.

  4. Coffee ground and egg shells

    An old belief is that both of these kitchen waste items are fine to put in your garbage disposal, but in fact, they are a frequent cause for clogged drains, creating the kind of blockage that will earn you a scolding from the plumber. Again, these kitchen scraps are compostable and easily reused.

  5. Paint

    Never pour paint in your sink, period. Take it to your community recycling center. You do not want to negatively impact the water supply and ecosystems with paint or other chemicals.

  6. Cleaning products

    They may be approved for cleaning surfaces in your home, but many cleaning products contain phosphates and other harmful chemicals that will do a number to the environment. Some of these products may also combine in your drains to create a corrosive substance that will weaken your pipes.

six things you should not flush down the toilet

The bottom line is that you should exercise caution when putting products in your plumbing system. Not only you be protecting the environment, but you will also be preventing a blocked kitchen sink.

How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

How to Prepare Your Home for WinterThe horror stories are true. Freezing temperatures have indeed caused havoc on residential plumbing systems resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damages. The cost of repairing the pipes and structural parts of the plumbing system, in addition to water damages, in extreme situations can amount to the price of a small home. The potential damage to your home as a result of not winterizing your home cannot be underestimated. These horrendous plumbing emergencies will continue to occur in homes that are not prepared for the cold winter months in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to the over the top expenses associated with busted pipes, more often than not homeowners insurance does not cover these types of damages. It is highly recommended you explore flood insurance options as this is a great way to protect yourself in the case of a plumbing emergency. Furthermore, your insurance premiums are likely to significantly increase due to the structural vulnerabilities that will result from not winterizing your home.

How Cold Weather Affects Your House

Those living in the Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA areas need to know the effects of not winterizing your home and they include:

  • Busted Pipes: No exaggeration, there is nothing worse for your plumbing system than busted pipes. When pipes burst they spew water at an uncontrollable rate resulting in immense damages.
  • Cracked Pipes: When pipes start cracking, your plumbing system is in serious trouble. Prevent this from happening by winterizing your plumbing system.
  • Expanded Pipes: When there is water left in your pipes and the water freezes it causes the pipe to expand. Expanded pipes from ice tend to start cracking.
  • Exposure to Raw Sewage: When your plumbing system is failing is it not uncommon for residents to be exposed to raw sewage when excessive flooding occurs.
  • Flooding: The water damage from flooding is the worst headache. Structural water damage brings on an entirely different set of issues and leaves your home extremely vulnerable.
  • Wood Rot: A nasty side effect of water damage, wood rot is expensive to eradicate and tends to spread rapidly.
  • Mold and Mildew Growth: The moisture from flooding will likely result in a hasty production of mold and mildew.
  • Pest Infestations: Anytime there is moisture present, especially in wooden structures, pest infestations are a significant threat. Pests thrive in environments where water damage is present and this can be extremely costly to deal with.

The effects of not winterizing your home are devastating, but you are in luck as there are steps you can take to protect your home’s plumbing from the debilitating freezing temperatures that winter brings. It is important to pay careful attention to the tips on what should and shouldn’t be winterized. Sometimes, despite winterizing your plumbing system, pipes burst. In some cases, when pipes burst in floors or ceilings it may take some time before it is obvious. Pay attention to water pressure, unusual noises from your plumbing system, and any other signs that there may be an issue. If you suspect cracked, defective, faulty, or expanded piping in your residential plumbing system, call a reputable plumber immediately.

Get your home ready for winter by winterizing your plumbing

10 ways to winterize your home

Get your home ready for winter by winterizing your plumbingYour plumbing system becomes extremely vulnerable during the winter season, and as such it is in your best interest to take the time and effort into protecting this invaluable system. Now is the best time for you get your home ready for winter by winterizing your plumbing system. Plumbing winterization is the process of preparing your residential plumbing system for the winter months. More specifically, plumbing winterization is the comprehensive endeavor of securing and insulating your plumbing system in preparation for days when the cold winter temperatures drop below 32 degrees, as this is when defenseless and exposed pipes break down causing plumbing system failure. Protect your home and follow the 10 plumbing winterization tips below:


Indoor Plumbing Winterization Tips

  1. Crawlspaces: Locate your crawlspace vents and shut them. Secure the openings of the vents with insulation. If you have moisture issues in your crawlspace you will need to reseal it before securing it shut.
  2. Doors and Windows: Pay careful attention to not let indoor temperatures drop too low. Be diligent in keeping windows, front doors, patio doors, back sliding doors, and garage doors closed- especially on days with freezing temperatures.
  3. Thermostat(s): Do not turn your heating system off in the winter when you are not home. When leaving your home, set the thermostat(s) to 58 degrees minimum.


Outdoor Plumbing Winterization Tips

  1. Outdoor Faucets: Turn off the water supply for outdoor faucets. Remove hose(s) from the yard and put away for the winter.
  2. Sprinkler Systems: Disable and drain sprinkler systems. If you have not done this before, you are encouraged to allow professionals to take care of this plumbing winterization task.
  3. Pools and Jacuzzis: Drain and clean out pools and Jacuzzis.
  4. Sump Pump: Now is the perfect time to conduct sump pump maintenance.


General Plumbing Winterization Tips

  1. Plumbing System Familiarize: First, you want to educate yourself on your plumbing system. Locate your pipes. Locate your mainline water shut off- this way if a plumbing system emergency were to occur you will know where to turn off the water supply. When turning off the main water supply line, make sure to also turn off plumbing fixtures to get pressure out of the pipes.
  2. Water Heater: Now is the perfect time to conduct water heater maintenance.
  3. Call a Plumbing Professional: There are many things you can do on your own to help protect your plumbing system from the harsh winter cold, however a comprehensive plumbing winterization plan requires the expertise of a plumbing professional.


Putting it All Together

Getting your home ready for the winter by winterizing your home is extremely important. Once you have performed the plumbing winterization tips above, the only thing left to do is call a reputable plumbing company to conduct an inspection. During this inspection, you can expect any plumbing system vulnerabilities that you missed to be highlighted and addressed. This is also a great time to ask any questions and schedule additional future plumbing maintenance if needed.  If anything were to happen to your plumbing system, you will wish you took the initiative now- so don’t delay.


Prevent your home from flooding

Prevent your home from flooding

Prevent your home from floodingThe Pacific Northwest is notoriously known for its constant and unrelenting rain during the cold winter months, and even well into the spring. Flash flooding is not an uncommon occurrence when heavy rainfall begins. Homeowners in the area should take notice and do what is necessary in preventing flooding in your home. Home flooding prevention also includes creating a plan should flash flooding occur to minimize any damages that may be a result. Take the initiative and begin home flooding prevention now. Preventing residential flooding is an inherent part of home maintenance and many aspects of it can be done on your own.

Home Flooding Protection

The following are tips in home flooding prevention and control:

  • Disaster Supplies Kit: Create an emergency preparedness kit that will last at least three days. This kit should have basic household items you would need in the case of an emergency. Items in this kit should include first aid kit, non-perishable food, clothing, batteries, matches, water, mess kit, battery powered radio, and warm blankets.
  • Emergency Plan: Create an emergency plan for your family. This plan should include what to do in case of separation, and how to reunite. All family members should be abreast to the plan.
  • Flood Insurance: Consider purchasing home flood insurance. Homeowners insurance does not typically cover damages from flash flooding. Look into your insurance options, and seek flood damage insurance.
  • Gutters & Downspouts: Inspect and clear out your gutters. Make sure downspouts are draining properly and redirecting water away from the home. Gutters that may be compromised need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Indoor Drains: Regular indoor drain cleaning is a great tactic in preventing flooding in your home. Pay special attention to floor drains, as they tend to cause the most problems when clogged.
  • Outdoor Drains: Clear out storm drains, French drains, and catch basins. Clogged outdoor drains often times result in flash flooding during heavy rainfall.
  • Crawlspaces: Inspect crawlspaces to make sure they are sealed tight and securely shut.
  • Sump Pump: If you do not already have one, consider purchasing and installing a sump pump. These pumps remove excess water from basements to help prevent flooding. If you already have a sump pump, be sure to keep up with regular manufacturer recommended maintenance.

Home flooding prevention is extremely important. There are many things you can do yourself to prepare yourself and your family for this type of emergency. The list above is not an exhaustive list however it is helpful in getting started when you begin doing things in preventing flooding in your home. For comprehensive home flooding prevention, call a reputable local plumber for assistance. A thorough inspection of your home for any flooding vulnerabilities is highly recommended. Having a professional on your side to help you and your family prepare for a flood is not only a good idea- it is a responsibility incumbent on homeowners in order to best protect their most valuable investment.


Considerations in Replacing Your Home Plumbing

plumbing-replacementAll plumbing systems age, and if you stay in one home long enough, chances are you will need maintenance and/or plumbing replacement services. Older plumbing systems are designed to last anywhere from 20-50 years, with newer systems engineered to last even longer. For superior quality home plumbing repipe services in the Portland, OR & Beaverton, OR areas, D & F Plumbing is here to serve you.

If you are unsure of the current condition of your plumbing system, give us a call and we will be happy to conduct a thorough inspection then provide recommendations to either maintain or repair your current system.  Below you will find a brief description of the factors that most influence the need for plumbing replacement or home plumbing repipe for your property.

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A Handful of Winterizing Tips

plumbing winterizing-d-f-plumbing-portland-or-beaverton-oregonWinter is upon us and if you have not already, now is the time to winterize your home’s plumbing system. The Portland, OR and Beaverton, OR areas experience extremely cold temperatures during the winter season, and your plumbing system could suffer immensely if you neglect to prepare it accordingly. Every winter in the greater Portland area, residents find themselves experiencing plumbing emergencies due to their pipes freezing and breaking.  If your pipes crack, or break, you must call a professional immediately before the damage gets out of hand. Plumbing emergencies are so common in the Pacific Northwest that it could be difficult to find a professional to assist you quickly when you are in a pinch. To help avoid a plumbing emergency in your home this winter, below you will find plumbing winterizing tips to help you protect your home’s plumbing system. Read more

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